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    Rolls-Royce's vision of the ship bridge of the future
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2014 Dec 13, 11:53 -0800

    As someone who spent a large part of his career in the computer field
    designing human-computer interfaces, I'd like to comment on some of the
    previous posts.  Many of the "GPS-induced" navigation "errors" can, in
    fact, be attributed to poor design of so-called integrated navigation
    The Royal Majesty is but one example, where the "GPS has failed,
    reverting to DR navigation" message was apparently not seen or
    understood by the bridge crew.  Imagine if the ship's navigator was
    doing traditional chartwork, but using his hand-held GPS as his primary
    positioning tool.   I rather suspect that a blank screen on the GPS
    would be instantly obvious.   And if he did pure DR without checking for
    currents, etc, he would be able to blame a poor job on his GPS!
    So I think the Royal Majesty grounding is not due to the use of GPS, but
    rather other contemporary technologies that allow for an "integrated"
    bridge developed by companies with imperfect understanding of things
    like possible failure modes, how the system will be used, and/or human
    factors in system design.
    Allow me to give two examples of this issue from outside the seafaring
    The worst nuclear accident in US history was at the Three Mile Island
    plant.  While a mechanical failure was the ultimate cause of the
    accident, a direct cause of the severity of the accident was poor human
    factors in the design of the plant's control and alerting systems.
    Operators were faced with a wall of postcard-sized status indicator
    lights; they were somehow expected to diagnose and respond to a
    condition with only a bewildering array of lights telling them of a
    variety of conditions (mostly normal).  It took them a very long time to
    diagnose exactly what had occurred, by which time there had been a
    reactor meltdown.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum are the "smart cockpit"systems in
    use in many aircraft today.  They offer a top-level display of all the
    aircraft's critical systems -- engines, controls, navigation, cabin --
    with the ability to "drill down" to see increasingly detailed data about
    the systems.  More important, when a problem is detected with one of
    these, the "smart cockpit" instantly switches to give detailed
    information about the problem.
    Most important, though, is that "smart cockpits" have been designed with
    intimate involvement of pilots who will be using these systems -- and
    have been the subject of through simulations of both normal and abnormal
    conditions.   One has to wonder if this was done for Three Mile Island
    -- or the Royal Majesty.

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